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Picking a Place to Live (and Record)

This post focuses on things to look for when you want to live and record in the same space.

Not too many of us producer types actually have the benefit of a dedicated studio space, working in rented rooms, in rehearsal spaces, or *gasp* where we live.  But what are some of the things that we can look out for in living spaces that make for great recording spaces?

Some things that make for exceptional living/recording spaces are:

  • Isolation from neighbors.  A truly make-or-break quality, this can mean either distance or really solid walls.  Concrete or brick is usually best for isolation – even better is if there are some air gaps or rubber in between.  Similarly, floated ceilings and/or floors help reduce bass transmission, mechanical reverberation, and footstep noises.
  • Tall ceilings help reduce ‘boxiness’ and add to a robust bass response.
  • Non-parallel walls.  If you can find a space that is somewhat irregular, it helps to cut down on reflections and standing waves.
  • Closets.  Closets are great for isolating amps or for getting a dry sound.  I use my walk-in closet as a vocal booth because the 13 foot ceiling, clothes, and boxes make for a really dry but non-boxy sound.
  • Separate rooms with line-of-sight to each other.  Rooms with windows can make great control room / live room setups.
  • Ductwork can be useful for running cables cleanly from room to room (as long as it doesn’t get too hot in there).
  • No water problems.  The worst thing you can have in a studio is water damage.  Look out for signs of past water damage.
  • Quiet utilities.  Radiators are way quieter than forced air, for instance.
  • Outlets and isolated, capable circuits.  Amps can blow wimpy electrical systems and poorly isolated circuits can introduce annoying noise into your gear.
  • Security features such as deadbolts or alarm systems.  Not having a land-level window helps.

These are just some thoughts based on my experiences with some of the great and not so great spaces in which I have lived and tracked.  Leave your own experiences in the comments!

3 Responses to :
Picking a Place to Live (and Record)

  1. Kristie says:

    Unfortunately when I bought my house, it was Location Location Location :(

  2. Joga Luce says:

    Along with the usefulness of good circuits and wiring in a place I also cannot recommend enough getting an ups for that eventual power outage in the middle of a session.

    There’s a special heart-breaking-ness to corrupted data as a result of a hard shutdown.

  3. Colin says:

    “Non-parallel walls. If you can find a space that is somewhat irregular, it helps to cut down on reflections and standing waves.”

    Reflections, yes. Standing waves, not so much. Rooms of any shape have vibrational modes at low frequencies. Square rooms, round rooms, irregularly shaped rooms all support standing waves.

    It is still good advice because of the effects at mid and high frequencies…

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